What Is Black Tea? What You Should Know About Black Tea...

Black tea has fallen out of favor recently as green tea has become more popular. However, black tea has many benefits that green tea does not, so it can be included as a beneficial part of any diet.
Today we're taking a closer look at black tea in its various forms, from smoky and chocolatey to bright and citrusy. Wondering when to add milk, or which variety is better for iced tea? 
Step right in...
What is black tea?
Black tea comes from a shrub called Camellia sinensis. The aroma, taste, and color of black tea depend on factors such as the species of Camellia; the country, region, and garden or estate where it was grown; the year and season of harvest; the manufacturing method; and the grade. Today, black tea is primarily grown in China, India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya.
To manufacture black tea, the leaves are plucked and withered to reduce moisture. Then, the leaves may be left whole and rolled, known as orthodox process, or they may undergo a cut-tear-curl (CTC) process. Finally, the leaves are oxidized and dried. Black tea leaves are more oxidized than white, green, and oolong teas and generally have a stronger flavor and aroma.
In China this tea is known as "red tea" (qi hong or hong cha), referring to the color of its brew, whereas "black tea" refers to pu-erh tea.

History of Black Tea
No one is certain exactly when and where black tea was invented, but there are two stories that may explain the first discovery of black tea.  The “Wuyi” theory, thought to be one theory about the creation of oolong tea, is also significant in Chinese black tea history.  Compressed tea cakes had been made in the Wuyi Mountains since the Song Dynasty.  When the emperor of the Ming Dynasty demanded a shift to loose leaf tea production, the tea producers made several attempts at making premium loose leaf teas.  During this new process, tea leaves would turn red as a sign of fermentation. Because of the red color of the tea leaves, black tea was readily known as red tea in China .
Another story of black tea’s invention takes place in the Chinese village of Tong Mu.  Sometime during the 16th century, army soldiers passing through Tong Mu village temporarily stopped production of green tea. The soldiers made beds out of piles of tea leaves and when they finally left the village, the tea leaves had turned black. Tea processing was resumed with these black tea leaves and a new kind of loose tea was born.

Types of black tea
Some of the major types of black tea include:
  • Assam: Grown in northeastern India, this tea is full-bodied, dark, and malty. It is used in many tea blends such as masala chai, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast. Good with milk and sugar.
  • Ceylon: Grown in the mountains of Sri Lanka, this tea is lively and bright with citrus notes.
  • Darjeeling: Grown on a small number of estates in India's Himalayas, this prized tea is delicate, floral, and fruity. It is known as the "Champagne of tea." Best served without milk or sugar.
  • Keemun: Grown in the Anhui province of eastern China, this tea is full-bodied, smooth, and fruity.
  • Nilgiri: Grown in southern India, this tea is fragrant with low tannins and astringency. Makes a good iced tea.
  • Lapsang Souchong: Grown in the Fujian province of southeastern China, this deep, smoky, robust tea is smoked over pine or spruce wood.
  • Yunnan: Grown in southwestern China, this tea is rich and sweet with chocolate notes.
Blends
Black tea is often blended and mixed with various other plants in order to obtain a beverage.
Earl Grey tea: Black tea with bergamot oil.
English Breakfast tea: Full-bodied, robust, and/or rich, and blended to go well with milk and sugar.

English afternoon tea: Medium bodied, bright and refreshing. Strong Assam and Kenyan teas are blended with Ceylon which adds a light, brisk quality to the blend.

Irish breakfast tea: Blend of several black teas: most often Assam teas and, less often, other types of black tea.
Masala chai: Combines black tea, spices, milk, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey; a traditional beverage from India which has been adapted in the West with changes to the method of preparation.
Russian caravan: An aromatic, smoky blend. Often made with Keemun and Lapsang Souchong teas.
In the United States, citrus fruits such as orange or lemon, or their respective rinds, are often used to create flavored black teas, sometimes in conjunction with spices (such as cinnamon). These products can be easily confused with citrus-based herbal teas, but the herbal products will generally be labelled as having no caffeine; whereas, the tea-based products do contain caffeine.

Milk, Sugar & Lemon for Black Teas
Some black teas are intended to be drunk with milk and / or sugar, while others are self drinkers . Teas that are traditionally drunk with milk and / or sugar include Masala Chai, English Breakfast and Assam black tea. Teas that are traditionally drunk with lemon and / or sugar include Earl Grey (which is not traditionally consumed with milk), iced Ceylon teas and Nilgiri black teas.

Iced Black Tea

In the United States, the vast majority of black tea is consumed as iced tea. Traditionally, iced tea has been more popular in the Southeastern U.S. than elsewhere in the U.S., but this is gradually changing with the widespread popularity of bottled and canned iced teas, which are available in most grocery stores and convenience stores across the country.

Iced black teas are usually served sweetened in the South and unsweetened in the North. Some people drink "half and half" iced tea, which refers to a 50-50 mixture of sweetened and unsweetened iced teas.  Besides sugar, popular additives for iced tea include lemon, honey and fresh mint leaves.

Grades of black tea
Black tea is graded according to the size of the leaf, which can affect its brewing rate and how nuanced or pungent the flavor is. One is not necessarily better than the other; for example, fannings from a high quality tea may taste better than broken leaves from a lower quality tea.
Whole leaf: Whole leaf tea requires greater skill to pluck and process and accounts for only about 5 to 10 percent of all tea produced. It is sold as looseleaf tea or sometimes in tea bags.
Broken leaf: This is sold as looseleaf tea or used in tea bags.
Fannings: Leftover from the processing of higher grade teas, these small leaf pieces are used in tea bags.
Dust: Like fannings, these leftover leaf particles are used in tea bags. They have the fastest brewing time and least nuanced flavor.

Pairing Black Teas With Foods
Black teas' bold flavors make them ideal for pairing with Western foods. Most of the top ten teas for afternoon tea are black teas, as are most teas consumed with breakfast foods. Black teas may also pair well with some Indian foods, Thai foods and African foods.

Caffeine in Black Tea
Generally speaking, black tea contains 50 to 90 mg of caffeine per cup. However, there are many factors influencing caffeine levels in tea which may make a particular cup of black tea higher or lower. For example, a masala chai will likely have less caffeine than a pure Assam tea because it is blended with spices, which do not contain caffeine.


Benefits
Plain black tea without sweeteners or additives contains negligible quantities of calories, protein, sodium, and fat. Some flavored tea with different herbs added may have less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant.
Drinking a moderate amount of black tea (one to four cups a day) may boost blood pressure slightly, but the effect does not last long. And drinking this amount of black tea is not associated with long-term high blood pressure.
A 2001 Boston University study concluded that short and long-term black tea consumption reverses endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease. This finding may partly explain the association between tea intake and decreased cardiovascular disease events.
In 2006, a German study concluded that the addition of milk prevents vascular protective effects of tea.
Theaflavin-3-gallate, a theaflavin derivative found in black tea, could reduce the incorporation of cholesterol into mixed micelle abstract.

How to Make Black Tea
Of all the types of tea, black tea is usually the easiest to steep. To make black tea, you simply use about one teaspoon of tealeaves per cup of hot water. The water can be at a rolling boil or nearly boiling. Steep the tealeaves for two to six minutes (depending on your tastes and the type of black tea; Darjeeling black teas usually taste better with a shorter steep) and then strain out the tealeaves. Add milk, sugar and / or lemon if desired.
Alternately, you can use cold water and cold steep ("cold infuse" or "cold brew") your black tea for four to eight hours in the fridge, then strain out the leaves.
To make iced black tea, you can double the amount of tealeaves, steep the tea as usual, and then pour the hot tea over ice.

The Best Black Teas
One of the best black teas is Teavana Golden Monkey . This loose leaf black tea was chosen by the White House to serve at the State Dinner on January 19, 2011 during a visit by the President of China. Teavana Black Dragon Pearls Black Tea is another one of the best black teas; this hand-rolled pearl tea is from the Yunnan province of China.
Many flavored varieties of loose black teas have become very popular, such as our Teavana Cacao Mint Black Tea . Refreshing peppermint compliments creamy cocoa pieces in this rich dessert-like treat. Another favorite in our flavored black teas is Earl Grey Creme Black Tea . It's a rich combination of the classic loose Earl Grey Black Tea with flavors of creamy vanilla blended with sunny yellow marigold petals.
Last, pu-erh teas are premium black teas aged in caves for up to 15 years.  Pu-erh teas have a smooth and earthy flavor. 




What is Jamaica's Blue Mountain Coffee?

Jamaica Blue Mountain® coffee is considered by many connoisseurs to be the world’s finest. It is admired for its delicate balance of floral aroma, acidity and full body. However, it is the sweet, mellow, lingering finish that elevates this coffee above all others.
In past years when Jamaica's economy was dominated by plantation slavery, some enslaved people known as Maroons escaped to the Blue Mountains and live independently.
This rare bean is grown in the majestic hills of the Jamaican Blue Mountains that rise from elevations of 3,000 to 7,500 feet. In this hilly, rugged terrain, the climate is cool with lots of rain and the soil is rich— considered the perfect condition for farming coffee. The beans are shade-grown under a canopy of rainforest-preserving trees, without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other additives. Biodiversity and organic farming methods make for healthier soil, prevent water contamination, provide habitat for dozens of species of migratory birds, and form a vital component of their exceptional flavor.
The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica. They include the island's highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 m (7402 ft). From the summit, accessible via a walking track, both the north and south coasts of the island can be seen. On a clear day, the outline of the island Cuba, 210 km (130 mi) away, can also be seen.It spreads in 4 parishes: Portland, St.Thomas, St Mary, St.Andrew.
As one of the longest continuous valley ranges in the Caribbean, the Blue Mountains dominate the eastern third of Jamaica, while bordering the eastern parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, St. Mary and St. Andrew to the south. Part of the Blue Mountains is contained in the Blue Mountain John Crow Mountain National Park established in 1992, which is maintained by the Jamaican government.
The Blue Mountains rise to its elevations from the coastal plain in the space of about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi), thus producing one of the steepest general gradients in the world. This forms cooling relief from the sweltering heat of Kingston below. Their summits rise and fall for 24 miles and are 14 miles at their widest point. The temperature decreases from around 27°C (80°F) at sea level to 5°C (40°F) at the Blue Mountain Peak, just 16 km (9.9 mi) inland.
Because of the unique climatic conditions of the Jamaican Blue Mountains, the coffee produced there is a unique specialty product that Jamaican’s can take pride in and call their own. It offers both the promise of economic growth and self-reliance. Rural poverty accounts for a staggering 82% of total poverty in developing countries. In Jamaica, the rural poor outnumber the urban poor two to one. Coffee is the highest value export crop in Jamaica. In particular, Blue Mountain coffee generates the highest prices in the world. One acre of Blue Mountain coffee yields an income roughly three times greater than the income of an average rural Jamaican. For these reasons, growing and harvesting this particular coffee offers many local farmers an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

Classifications of Blue Mountain Coffee
As with most other varieties of coffee, there are several grades assigned to different lots, based on factors such as size, appearance, and defects allowed.
The Coffee Industry Regulations Act allows for five classifications :
  • Blue Mountain No. 1 - 96% of beans must have a screen size of 17/20. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
  • Blue Mountain No. 2 - 96% of beans must have a screen size of 16/17. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
  • Blue Mountain No. 3 - 96% of beans must have a screen size of 15/16. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
  • Blue Mountain Peaberry - 96% of beans must be peaberry. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
  • Blue Mountain Triage - Contains bean sizes from all previous classifications. No more than 4% of the beans may have significant defects.
World’s Best Coffee Beans 
You can import the beans yourself. Blue Mountain’s Peaberry, a "fetish coffee," is as rare as it is expensive. For an everyday blend, Intelligentsia’s Geoff Watts recommends Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe from the birthplace of coffee, or Nicaragua’s Flor Azul, which has hints of cane sugar .



While you experience your cup of Blue Mountain Coffee, imagine the pleasures of the vibrant Caribbean culture. So, sit back and enjoy the rich yet smooth and well-bodied taste of Jamaica. Ya Mon!
This type of coffee you can buy on this place:





How to Recycle Coffee

Drinking coffee is a daily activity for many people across the world. Whether you use an electric coffee maker, a French press, a Chemex brewer, or any other type of coffee brewing method, you may be wondering how you can avoid throwing all those spent coffee grounds into the garbage. The answer lies in composting.
Ground coffee is plant-based organic matter, and therefore can be allowed to decompose in a controlled setting, yielding a rich soil amendment while diverting material from landfills.

1. Odor Eater
Dry the grounds out on a cookie sheet and then put them in a bowl in your refrigerator or freezer to neutralize odors. This also works well to get rid of Mothball smells from closets or campers!
Keep some grounds in a small can under the sink, then the next time you chop an onion or fresh garlic, scoop out a small amount, rub them over your hands and rinse. Odor gone!

2 Soften skin
Exfoliate with a body scrub made of coffee grounds, coconut oil and a little brown sugar. Gently massage it on in the shower, rinse, be soft.

3. Keep pests out of your garden
Noticing ants, slugs and other pests hanging around your garden? Sprinkle coffee grounds around problem areas to keep pests at bay. Spent coffee grounds are also fantastic cat repellents. So, if your kitty is using the garden as a restroom or fiddling with indoor houseplants, add a few tablespoons of coffee grounds around your plants to solve the problem.


4. Pour the coffee grounds over your outdoor soil.
Because coffee grounds work themselves into the soil so quickly, and because plants consume their available nutrients so readily, the grounds can actually be poured directly onto the ground outside.
This method of recycling coffee grounds is only appropriate if you own a piece of outdoor land. You should avoid dumping coffee grounds onto land that you do not own.
When doing this, avoid dumping the grounds so that they bury existing plant growth. Instead, consider pouring the grounds around the bases of trees, which are typically self-mulched and devoid of competing plant life already.

5. Use them to fertilize roses. 
Sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil around the stem of the rose bush (but not touching the plant).

6. Simplify fireplace cleaning
Before cleaning the fireplace, sprinkle with dampened used coffee grounds, which will weigh down the ash and thus eliminate clouds of smoke-flavored dust.


7. Encourage the carrots
To boost a carrot harvest, mix seeds with dried coffee grounds before sowing. The extra bulk makes the wee seeds easier to manage, while the coffee aroma can nourish the soil and help repel pests.

8. Deodorize your fridge
Skip buying baking soda for deodorizing your fridge, and use a small container filled with coffee grounds instead! For best results, allow your grounds to dry overnight on a baking sheet. Then pour into an open cup or food storage container and place in your fridge to kiss icky odors goodbye.

9. Whip up a coffee dye
You already know a splash of coffee can stain light-colored clothes. But have you ever thought of using your morning cup to create a homemade dye? To whip up a simple, natural and waste-free dye, steep used coffee grounds in hot water for 10 minutes or until the water turns to a medium-brown color. Then remove the grounds with a mesh strainer, reserving your dye for later use. Use finished dye to add a lovely light brown color to white clothing and linens, or craft it up by coloring paper and even Easter eggs with your DIY dye. A similar concoction can also be used to darken your hair over time for a subtle change that’s as easy on your tresses as it is on the environment.

10. Highlight Hair Naturally.
 Brunettes and darker redheads can turn up the shine in their hair by rinsing dry, clean hair with strong, cooled coffee. Steep used coffee grounds in 2 cups hot water for 15 minutes or so and then rinse through hair for a darker, more vibrant shine. You can also pour 1-2 tablespoons straight into your conditioner. Not recommended for blonde or silver hair.

Do not use coffee grounds to unclog your sink, as they may actually clog it by adhering to any grease in the pipes.





How to Make a Cappuccino?

A well-made cappuccino from an experienced barista is a delectable work of art. However, you can learn to make a cappuccino on your own by following these instructions.
One of the most popular drinks these days is a cappuccino. This is a big part of the reason for that you see a coffee shop on every corner. Most people don't really have the equipment that they need to make one at home but there are ways around that.
It is essential that you have established how to make the perfect espresso before moving on to other drinks such as cappuccino, as this is the base of the whole drink.  If your espresso is bad it doesn’t matter how well you froth or pour your milk, it will never make a good cappuccino!
A cappuccino is simply a mixture of espresso along with some steamed milk and some milk foam. This of course raises the obvious question of just what is espresso? Espresso is simply a concentrated extraction from coffee beans; it requires a special machine to make it. When you make a cappuccino you can vary it by changing the amount of steamed milk or foam that you have on it allowing you to make the drink just the way that you like it. This is a big part of the reason that they have become so popular.

Myth: cappuccino’s silky magic is beyond the grasp of home baristas.  It’s just too delicate of a dance, best left to the cafe.
Truth: great cappuccino is a delight available to discerning coffee lovers, right in their own kitchens.  It takes some practice with water, steam and foam, along with the right equipment on your countertop.  You’ll want an espresso machine with a built-in steaming wand. And of course, illy coffee on hand as your foundation.
A cappuccino is an approximately 150 ml (5 oz) beverage, with 25 ml of espresso coffee and 85ml of fresh milk The foaming action creates the additional volume.

The best foam
Foam’s consistency depends on the milk’s fat content.
For the most velvety, rich cappuccino, use whole milk.  You can substitute low-fat milk, at the sacrifice of some smoothness.
Foam produced from skim milk is light and meringue-like, quick to dissolve.

Step 1- Prepare the Espresso
1. Grind enough espresso beans for a 1-ounce (30 ml) espresso shot.
Check the consistency of the ground espresso by pinching some between your thumb and forefinger. The espresso should clump lightly together, but you shouldn't be able to see your thumbprint.
If you see a visible thumbprint or the espresso doesn't clump at all, adjust your coffee grinder according to the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Empty the grounds into your espresso machine's portafilter. Use your pinky to lightly touch the surface of the ground espresso to evenly distribute it around the portafilter.

3. Tamp the ground espresso into the portafilter using an espresso tamper.
Press the grounds down gently and then tap the outside of the portafilter to get loose espresso off of the inside of the portafilter.
Push the pellet with firm pressure to compact the espresso into the portafilter.

4. Place the portafilter into your machine. Don't pull the espresso shot yet. You will wait to pour the shot until you have foamed the milk.

Step 2- Foam the Milk
1. Press the "Steam" button on your espresso maker. When the indicator light comes on (or goes off, depending on your machine), your machine is ready to dispense steam. Release the steam wand briefly to get rid of residual moisture in the wand.
2. Pour 4 ounces (120 ml) of milk into a chilled metal pitcher. Nonfat milk makes more foam, while whole milk creates a creamier shot.
3. Place a thermometer into your pitcher. Ideally, your foam should be between 150 and 155 F (65 and 68 C) when the steaming process is complete.
4. Lower the steam wand into the pitcher and release the wand. Then, lower the pitcher until the steam wand rests just below the surface of the milk.
Listen as you foam the milk. You should hear a steady ch-ch-ch sound if you have the wand in the right position.
If you hear a whine and see big bubbles, your steam wand tip is too high. Raise your pitcher slightly.
5. Sink the wand into the lower portion of the milk when the temperature reaches 100 F (38 C). Slowly swirl the pitcher to whirlpool the milk.
6. Turn off the steam wand when the foam reaches the desired temperature. Set the milk aside.

Step 3-  Pull the Espresso Shot and Assemble the Cappuccino
1. Place your cappuccino cup under the espresso dispenser and start the brewing cycle.
2. Analyze your shot for quality. The first part of the shot will be dark followed by a rich golden foam called the crema.
3. Time the shot. The shot should pour for 20 to 30 seconds for the best quality.
4. Keep the shot if it pours correctly. Otherwise, discard it, grind and tamp more espresso, and try again.
5. Pour the foamed milk over the espresso shot. Your cappuccino should be about 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foamed milk.
6.Drink your shot. You can sprinkle the foam with cinnamon for extra flavor, if desired.

Popularity
Cappuccino was traditionally a taste largely appreciated in Europe, Australia, South America and some of North America. By the mid-1990s cappuccino was made much more
widely available to North Americans, as upscale coffee houses sprang up.
In Italy, and throughout continental Europe, cappuccino was traditionally consumed early in the day as part of the breakfast, with some kind of sweet pastry. Generally, Europeans did not drink cappuccino with meals other than breakfast, preferring espresso throughout the day and following dinner[citation needed]. However, in recent years Europeans have started to drink cappuccino throughout the entire day. Especially in Australia and Western Europe cappuccino is popular at cafés and terraces during the afternoon and in restaurants after dinner. In Italy, cappuccino is consumed only before 10 am, and Italians consider it very "strange" to ask for a cappuccino after that hour. In the United States, cappuccinos have become popular concurrent with the boom in the American coffee industry through the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially in the urban Pacific Northwest.

There are 4 types of cappuccino today in the world. 
Traditional Style Cappuccino is possible to find in cafes and some Old Italian shops. Recipe of traditional cappuccino is strong espresso of 2 shots, hot milk and foamed milk. Some cafes use blanket milk instead of foamed one. Coffee lovers can add more espresso shots if they like their cappuccino stronger. Milk level is the key for the best taste and when milk is low or high, it will not be cappuccino. If more than enough milk for cappuccino, it’s latte.

Wet Cappuccino is very similar to traditional cappuccino. Same amount of espresso is used for wet cappuccino but milk level varies according to recipe. When someone wants wet cappuccino in a café, he means more milk poured in the espresso. Also he wants little less steamed foam on it. This is for coffee lovers who like their cappuccino with more creamy and light taste than traditional cappuccino. There were coffee gourmets in the end of 19th century and they were professional to differ cafe latte and wet cappuccino. But today it’s hard to separate them. Only foam level can show if it’s café latte or wet cappuccino.

Dry Cappuccino is also very similar to traditional cappuccino. When a customer wants dry cappuccino, he means no steamed milk poured in the espresso. Steamed foam will be increased instead of steamed milk so it will make the cappuccino stronger but will not break its creamy taste. It’s especially for people who like the layer of milky foam over the cappuccino.
Flavored Cappuccino is a new type of drink and it’s possible to have it by adding flavor to all types of cappuccino. They are mostly in bottles. Syrup can be directly poured into cappuccino for flavor. There are many new cappuccino types now calling with their own name. Flavors can vary like mint, vanilla and caramel. In some café, it’s possible to see powdered cocoa or sugar is sprinkling over the foam. 

Iced cappuccino or iced cappuccino is popular in some parts of Italy. While café owners prepare their iced cappuccinos from morning for customers, it’s very hard to find prepared one in Milan. Northern Italy cities have their iced cappuccino variations like “gelato da bere” and “shakerato”. There are today big coffee shops are selling this product with various names like Starbucks’ “iced latte” Also Tim Hortons in Canada is selling ‘Icecap’ or ‘Iced capp’ which is short name of iced cappuccino. 

Similar drinks
Other milk and espresso drinks similar to the cappuccino include:
  • Caffè macchiato is a significantly shorter drink, which consists of espresso with only a small amount of milk.
  • Cortado is a spanish hybrid; a slightly shorter drink, which consists of espresso mixed with milk in a 1:1 to 1:2 ratio, and is not topped with foam. Cafè Cortado has traditionally been served in a small glass on a saucer, and its character comes more from the spanish preferation of coffee beans and roast plus condensed milk replacing fresh dairy milk. Modern coffee shops have started using fresh milk.
  • Latte (short for "caffè latte") is a larger drink, with the same amount of espresso, but with more milk and a varying amount of foam, served in a large cup or tall glass.
  • Flat White is an Australian hybrid and a way of preparing something between a cappuccino and a caffè latte ('flat' indicating little or no foam), typically prepared with a double shot of espresso and a little latte art atop. A flat white is prepared with a milder espresso and no robusta.


History Of Arabica Coffee Beans

Coffee is one of the world's favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity. Arabica coffee is considered to produce the finest coffee beans.
Arabica coffee beans come from coffee cherries grown on the Arabica coffee plants. They originated in northern Africa, but are now grown in many parts of the world. They are gourmet coffee beans that do not have to be mixed with other coffee beans to be good.
The arabica coffee bean is the Adam or Eve of all coffees, its origins dating back to about 1,000 BC in the highlands of the Kingdom of Kefa (present-day Ethiopia), where the Oromos tribe ate the bean, crushed it and mixed it with fat to make spheres the size of ping-pong balls. The spheres were consumed for the same reason that coffee is consumed today: as a stimulant.
Arabica got its name around the 7th century when the bean crossed the Red Sea from Ethiopia to present-day Yemen and the lower Arab peninsula .
Arabica is also the Merlot of coffee, its mild taste a seductive evocation of sweetness, light and mountain air.
The name arabica was given to this species of coffee by the botanist Carolus Linnaeus who incorrectly believed that it originated on the Arabian peninsula in modern-day Yemen. There is still debate over whether it was first cultivated in East Africa or on the Arabian peninsula.

The Very First Use Of Arabica Coffee Beans
There are several legends surrounding the first use of the Arabica coffee bean and of course it is difficult to verify any of these. They are worth mentioning though for interests sake!
One legend involves a Sufi mystic noticing birds with unusual vitality and energy, seemingly from eating a particular berry. When he tried the berries himself they had a similar effect on him and he then took some with him back to Arabia to share with his people.
Another account tells of a disciple called Omar who was exiled to a cave. He picked some berries but on eating them found them quite bitter. He tried roasting them but they became hard and inedible. He then tried boiling those hard beans in water to soften them and they produced a brown liquid with an intriguing fragrance. On drinking the liquid he was revitalized and sustained for days.
Coffee was primarily associated in the Islamic world with religion although over time it became a common place drink and a widely traded commodity.
It is now the second most traded commodity in the world behind oil.

Distribution, Habitat and Cultivation
Arabica coffee beans played a huge part in the establishment of slavery in the Caribbean. Over 1 million slaves were brought to Cuba between the 16th and 19th centuries for the sole purpose of cultivating coffee.
Arabica coffee is now grown primarily in the developing world and accounts for 70-80% of the world’s coffee production.
Wild plants grow between 9 and 12m and have an open branch system and leafy appearance. They have an ideal elevation range which is usually between 1300 and 1500m above sea level but there are also plantations as low as sea level and as high as 2800m.
So there we have it, some interesting and insightful information about the Arabica coffee bean. 
Makes me think it might be time for a coffee!

Characteristics
Fully grown, coffea arabica is between fourteen to fifteen feet tall and bushy. It has dark-green, lance-shaped leaves, approximately three to six inches long. The underside of the leaves are substantially lighter than the top side.
The white and fragrant flowers of the coffea arabica tree grow in clusters in the axils of the leaves. Even on a single tree, the number of petals on a flower vary from blossom to blossom. In hot and dry conditions, the flowers are generally smaller and more numerous. However, if the conditions are too dry, the flowers will not bear as much of the fruit that will develop into the coffee harvest.
The cherries of the arabica coffee tree contain an elliptical pit which typically consists of two coffee beans. In rare cases, the pit may actually be made from three beans, however, a more common mutation occurs when there is only one coffee bean in a cherry. These beans are referred to as peaberry.
The number of times coffee may be harvested from an arabica tree varies widely and is dependent on factors such as the variety of the tree and the growing climate. A single tree typically produce from one to twelve pounds of coffee annually.

        Varieties

  • Arabica;
  • Blue Mountain- grown in Jamaica and Kenya;
  • Bourbon;
  • Catuai - developed as a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra, characterized by either yellow or red cherries: Catuai-amarelo and Catuai-vermelho respectively;
  • Columnaris;
  • Erecta;
  • Mokka;
  • Maragopipe;
  • Mundo Novo- a cross between typica and bourbon, originally grown in Brazil ;
  • Purpurascens;
  • San Ramon;
  • Typica;
  • Kent - originally developed in India, showing some disease resistance.

Known hazards: 
Although recent research shows that there are many positive health benefits from consumption in moderation, much research is being undertaken to investigate the numerous compounds found in coffee and how these affect quality and human health.



The Best Teas

From green tea to hibiscus, from white tea to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies.


Lipton Black Tea
A top seller for decades, this orange-pekoe blend has a mellow, full-bodied taste that also makes for great iced tea. 
To buy: $2.80 for 48 bags.
Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.

Choice Organic Teas Whole Leaf Organics English Breakfast
Large bags allow for maximum infusion, producing an earthy, robust flavor. 
To buy: $8.50 for 15 bags.
English breakfast tea is simply black tea without added herbs or other ingredients. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, this beverage, made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, is the second most widely consumed drink in the world, after water. Because black tea can retain its flavor for years, it has been a popular article of trade for centuries, creating important relations between nations throughout the planet. People who drink English breakfast tea each morning can enjoy a variety of health benefits from its flavonoid content and from other nutrients it contains.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Earl Greater Grey
The spicy citrus notes from the bergamot oil in this organic winner go deliciously with milk and honey. 
To buy: $6.50 for 22 bags.
Earl Grey. If you're a tea drinker, you may have heard of or tried Earl Grey tea, a blend of different Chinese teas with some added citrus flavor. Named for a 19th-century English prime minister, Earl Charles Grey, it's a flavorful, aromatic blend that could also provide significant health benefits because of its content of natural, biologically active compounds.


Stash Premium Green Tea
Fresh and pleasantly grassy, this bold variety has none of the astringent aftertaste common to many green teas. 
To buy: $3.60 for 20 bags.
Green Tea. Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.

Yogi Purely Peppermint
This fragrant golden brew from the Pacific Northwest bursts with invigorating flavor―a perfect pick-me-up. 
To buy: $5 for 16 bags.
Mint tea is the classic herbal tea. Mint is an ingredient in many different commercial tea blends and is much-loved for its refreshing fragrance. Mint is an herb that doesn’t just grow easily – it can quickly overtake your garden!  For this reason, it is recommended to grow mint in either a container or its own bed. There are many varieties of mint and the healing properties are similar.  Whether you grow peppermint or spearmint, the active component is menthol.


Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile
Flowery and honey scented, this blend helps calm the body and aid digestion. 
To buy: $4.50 for 16 bags.
Chamomile tea should be steeped a little longer than other herbal teas in order to get all of the medicinal benefits.  This soothing, slightly apple-flavored tea has mild sedative properties. The petals of the tiny flowers are where the medicinal values lie.
Chamomile is easy to grow from seeds. Start them in the late winter and transfer outdoors when the risk of frost has passed.  Once the plants are well established, chamomile can thrive with little water during hot weather.  When buying your seeds, note that German chamomile is an annual and Roman chamomile is a perennial.


The Republic of Tea Good Hope Vanilla Red Tea
Made from the rooibos plant, this caffeine-free tea is redolent of berries and vanilla bean. 
To buy: $10 for 36 bags.
Rooibos tea. THE tannin in standard black tea can reduce iron absorption from foods, so anaemia sufferers are advised not to drink it with meals. But South African rooibos (close in taste to black tea) can be drunk safely as it doesn’t impair iron uptake as much as traditional tea.



How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee has become recognized as a human necessity. It is no longer a luxury or an indulgence; it is a corollary of human energy and human efficiency.
William H. Ukers, All About Coffee 
There are many methods for brewing a fine cup of coffee -- no single technique is right for everyone. The method you choose for brewing your coffee should be based on your needs and your unique coffee preferences. Do you want a hearty mug of coffee for breakfast?  An afternoon cappucino? Or a dessert espresso? Do you prefer a milder coffee or a more robust coffee flavor?
The quality and flavor of your coffee is not only determined by the brewing process you prefer but also by the type of coffee you select.  For example, what country is the coffee from, what region and what variety of coffee tree?  Or is it a blend from several countries, regions or varieties?  Do you favor a dark roast coffee, a light blend or something in between?  What kind of grind have you selected?  Remember to be creative - you can choose a dark espresso roast coffee and still have it ground to be brewed in a drip system.

What is Good Coffee?
To understand good coffee, we have to start with how the coffee world measures its brews. After all, if you're trying categorize your coffee, it helps if you have a benchmark.
Measuring the quality of coffee goes back to the 1950s, when MIT chemistry professor E. E. Lockhart conducted a series of surveys to determine American preferences. Basically, he surveyed a lot of coffee drinkers and asked them what they liked.
Lockhart published his findings in the form of the Coffee Brewing Control Chart, a graphical representation of what Americans at the time considered to be the best coffee. In the years since, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has confirmed that American tastes haven't changed all that much. Perfection, at least to Americans, is a coffee that falls in the range of 18 to 22 percent Extraction with a brew strength between 1.15 and 1.35 percent Total Dissolved Solids.
The Percentage Extraction is the amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds. The Percentage of Total Dissolved Solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee (commonly known as "brew strength"). When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength and extraction percentage.
Strength refers to the solids that have dissolved in your coffee. Percentage Extraction refers to the amount that you removed from the dry grounds. The point is that strong coffee has almost nothing to do with bitterness, caffeine content, or the roast profile, and everything to do with the ratio of coffee to water in your cup.
The great innovation in measuring all this stuff came about in 2008, when a company called Voice Systems Technology decided to use a refractometer—a device that bounces light waves off of particles—in conjunction with a program they developed called ExtractMojo.
The device allows you to get an accurate reading on Total Dissolved Solids and then compare your brews to the Coffee Brewing Control Chart. In this way, you can refine your results based on science as well as taste.

The Right Equipment
    Make sure that your equipment is thoroughly cleaned after each use by rinsing it with clear, hot water and drying it with an absorbant towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of coffee oil. Such residue can impart a bitter, rancid flavor to future cups of coffee. Like the clean, robust taste that comes from a manual dripper, since it filters out oil and sediment. And she’s not alone. As basic as it is, the pour-over has become the latest thing at gourmet coffee shops. 

The Coffee
Purchase coffee as soon after it has been roasted as possible. Fresh roasted coffee is essential to a superb cup of coffee. And purchase your coffee in small amounts—only as much as you can use in a given period of time. Ideally you should purchase your coffee fresh every 1-2 weeks.

Buy good coffee beans
Without question, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster (or roasting your own) is the surest way to get the absolute freshest beans. Be wary of buying bulk coffee from supermarket display bins. Oxygen and bright light are the worst flavor busters for roasted beans, so unless the store is conscientious about selling fresh coffee, the storage tubes get coated with coffee oils, which turn rancid. Coffee beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in sturdy, vacuum-sealed bags are often a better bet.

Keep Coffee Beans Fresh
Always store opened coffee beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate . Flavor experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature.

Grind your coffee just before brewing
 Roasted coffee is very delicate and perishable. Coffee has many more flavor compounds than wine, but those compounds deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen. Grinding your coffee just before you brew it keeps those compounds intact, and it's the number one thing you can do to improve your coffee at home.

Use Good Water
Nothing can ruin a pot of coffee more surely than tap water with chlorine or off flavors. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps. Note: Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee—the minerals in good water are essential.

Use the right proportion of coffee to water
A major error people make is not using enough coffee. We empathize—it almost seems wasteful to add that extra scoop. But the Golden Ratio we mentioned earlier really is a great starting point and the simplest way to get into that perfect zone.

Avoid Cheap Filters
Bargain-priced paper coffee filters yield inferior coffee, according to the experts. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters (e.g., Filtropa, Melitta). Alternatively, you may wish to invest in a long-lived gold-plated filter (e.g., SwissGold). These are reputed to deliver maximum flavor, but may let sediment through if the coffee is ground too finely.

Focus on technique
It's beyond the scope of this guide to go through step-by-step instructions for every method, but underlying all of them is the fact that brewing great coffee is about precision and consistency. Each brewing method has its own particular techniques, but by doing the same thing over and over you fix your mistakes and improve incrementally.

Beware The Heat
Water that is too hot will extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter rather than pleasant. The proper brewing temperature is 200°F, or about 45 seconds off a full boil. (Most good coffeemakers regulate this automatically.) Once brewed, don’t expect coffee to hold its best flavors for long. Reheating, boiling or prolonged holding on a warming platform will turn even the best coffee bitter and foul-tasting.

Use quality tools
You're going to get better results from high quality tools than you will with junk from the bargain bin. Yes, it's more of an upfront investment, but in the long run it's worth it. Good tools last longer and make the entire brewing process much easier.

Magic Ratio 
To brew 16 ounces of coffee (two big cups), use 5 tablespoons (or 28 grams) of coffee and 16 ounces of water.

Master the Pour-Over
  •  As your kettle heats, place a dripper lined with a paper filter on a mug or a carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water to get rid of paper dust and to preheat the cone.
  • Place ground coffee in the dampened filter.
  •  After the water boils, wait 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds.
  • Pause 30 seconds to let the coffee “bloom.” It will bubble and soften.
  • Pour again, raising the water level to an inch above the grounds. Wait a few moments until the water trickles through the dripper. Repeat this process of “pulse pouring,” which helps prevent overflow, until you have your desired amount of brewed coffee.
Brewed coffee should be enjoyed immediately!

Pour it into a warmed mug or coffee cup so that it will maintain its temperature as long as possible. Brewed coffee begins to lose its optimal taste moments after brewing so only brew as much coffee as will be consumed immediately. If it will be a few minutes before it will be served, the temperature should be maintained at 180 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit.  It should never be left on an electric burner for longer than 15 minutes because it will begin to develop a burned taste. If the coffee is not to be served immediately after brewing, it should be poured into a warmed, insulated thermos and used within the next 45 minutes.

Enjoy Your Coffee!
A finely prepared cup of coffee should be enjoyed as thoughtfully as it was brewed.  
Take a moment to smell the aroma.
Take a sip and notice your coffee's flavor. How does it compare to other coffees with regard to body, acidity and balance?  If it is a coffee that is new to you, notice how it is different.  If it is what you normally drink, note its degree of freshness or how simple changes in preparation affect the cup's flavor.
A steeping cup of coffee will not last long, but every sip is meant to be savored and enjoyed!
Never reheat your coffee.